The last four weeks have seen an unusually long stretch of wet and windy weather. And some of it has been quite extreme. Thousands of people lost their power in the run up to Christmas, and some didn’t get it back until after the holiday.
On top of that we now have hundreds of flood warnings in place as the ground has become saturated, and rivers have burst their banks. Living on some of our coasts has become hazardous, with huge seas and waves, and higher than normal tides driven by storm surges.
Not only have personal lives been turned upside down, but many businesses have struggled to operate under these adverse conditions.
How prepared are you?
A useful but sobering exercise for the New Year would be to put yourself in the shoes of someone coping with flood water or power cuts. If either happened to you and your copywriting business, would you be able to meet your deadlines or even carry on trading?
Try answering these questions:
- Have you planned how to protect your files and equipment from water damage?
- Can you easily move your precious data (paper and electronic records) out of harm’s way?
- If you don’t have power, can you set up enough IT equipment elsewhere to keep you going?
- Have you thought about where you’d have to go to find both power and an internet connection?
Have you noticed that nobody is now talking about one-in-one-hundred-year events? That’s because extreme weather events are now happening much more frequently – ask the people around Tewkesbury.
What you can do
Here are 10 ideas to get you started:
- Talk the possible problems and solutions through with family and friends – it will help you formulate a plan of action, and alert them to the possible role they may have to play.
- Know which things MUST be saved, and which can be replaced. Don’t wait until there’s a problem before deciding – mistakes will be made.
- Make sure at least some of your IT kit is portable – much easier to pick up and move a laptop than a PC, monitor, keyboard, mouse, cables etc.
- Have all the website links, usernames, passwords you’ll need stored securely on your ’emergency’ PC – don’t put them in a Word document or a text file in case the computer is stolen.
- Make sure you have access to all your electronic data – this might be an external hard drive which is constantly synchronised with your main data storage. This will be small, portable, and just need a power supply and USB cable.
- If you store your data in the cloud (i.e. not locally), make sure you also have up-to-date local copies of your files (say on an external hard drive) – remember if you store all your data in the cloud, you give up full control of when and where it’s available.
- Have access to your website so you can put a message or emergency telephone number on it to alert clients and customers of any problems, delays or temporary changes to your service.
- Have a list of places where you can set up your laptop and get a reasonable internet connection … and make sure you check them out from time to time.
- Consider having a broadband dongle on contract so you only need power and a signal.
- Don’t rely on smartphones or pads to run your business – they weren’t designed for it!
If you’re in danger of being flooded, don’t wait until the last moment to leave – you could be trapped before getting away to higher ground.
You can probably think of other things which need to be organised, specific to your business and circumstances.
Even if you don’t live close enough to water to worry about flooding, you could still lose your power for days at a time.
And we haven’t even started to think about what would happen if all this rain turns to snow!
By David McCarthy
Image credit 123RF